Amazon embraces the globe icon as it launches Spanish support for US shoppers

I first noticed this while creating the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card — not on the US website but the German site.

But today Amazon rolled out support for Spanish for the US.

According to CNET:

A spokeswoman for the Seattle-based online retailer told CNET on Thursday that the website has begun adding Spanish. The change will let the US’ more than 40 million native Spanish speakers and over 10 million bilingual Spanish speakers toggle between English and Spanish on the site. The US is now the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, after Mexico.

And you can navigate this language via the new globe icon:

Here’s a close-up of what you see when clicking on the globe icon:

I’ve long argued (going back to 2004) that the globe icon is best icon for global gateways — even if those gateways are language-only gateways. I’m happy to see Amazon embracing this icon and I’ve noted in the Report Card a number of other companies that now use this icon. More companies are sure to follow — I say this because I’ve spoken to several over the past two months that are headed in this direction.

Ultimately this is good news for web users as they will have another standardized icon to rely upon as they travel the world wide web.

PS: And, yes, Amazon supporting Spanish for the US market is big news as well. I’ll have more to say about this in the weeks ahead…

Learn more about the best global gateways in the latest Report Card.

 

Bienvenido: Using language negotiation to support bilingual US websites

Bienvenido: Ford home page overlay

bienvenido

During my work for the Web Globalization Report Card I encountered a number of US-focused websites relying on language negotiation (also known as language detection) to make their Spanish-language websites impossible to ignore.

Shown above is the overlay used on the T-Mobile website.

And below is the Ford website overlay:

Bienvenido: Ford home page overlay

What language negotiation does is look at the language setting of the web user’s browser. If Spanish is detected as the preference, the website displays an overlay that asks the user to confirm his or her language preference.

Language negotiation is far from a perfect technology so it’s best to ask users to confirm their setting.

The overlay provides a nice tool for making Spanish content discoverable while also allowing users to stay in control of what language they prefer to use. It’s fair to say that many US-based web users may have web browsers set to Spanish but may prefer to see the English-language websites. The fact is, unfortunately, many companies don’t fully translate all English content into the target language — and people know this.

If you do implement this approach for your website, it’s vital that you provide a visual global gateway in the header so users can easily change settings at any time.

Some companies have given up on Spanish for the US

I’ve been revisiting a number of the websites that at one point were localized specifically for Spanish speakers in the US.

And now I’m finding dead links.

Home Depot had a site located at homedepotespanol.com and Lowe’s had one at www.lowes.com/spanish. Both of those sites are now gone. Both companies do maintain site specific to Mexico, which makes the absence of US Spanish websites even more curious.

UPDATE: Joe Kutchera noted that Lowe’s has NOT abandoned their Spanish site; but they did change URLs and failed to redirect the old address. The new address is http://es.lowes.com.

The pet food company Iams once hosted a localized site at www.iams.com/es_US. That links is now dead as well and I can’t find any replacement.

Visit WalgreensEspanol.com and you’ll see this message:

Which more or less says: Welcome to Walgreens; this site has been deactivated. Good luck with that.

Fortunately, there are still numerous websites out there that do offer Spanish for the US, such as FedEx and Holiday Inn.

I’m not suggesting that there is a larger trend of companies abandoning the US Spanish-speaking market. If anything, the trend points towards greater investment; I’ve spoken with numerous companies this year who are planning their initial US Spanish sites in 2012. And there are many websites out there that have for years supported Spanish for the US, ranging from FedEx to Holiday Inn.

Nevertheless, some companies appear to have abandoned their US Spanish efforts, at least on the web. And this is unfortunate, not just because of the wasted resources but for fact that they will no doubt be launching US Spanish sites again some day. Any company that is serious about the US consumer market simply cannot afford to ignore this audience.

And there is a lesson here as well. Although most companies that launch localized web sites rarely retreat, some do. To avoid this fate, it’s important to have clear, measurable goals for your localized sites. Don’t just do it because everyone else is doing it. Always assume that there is someone within your company who would love to slash your budget in favor of some other initiative (as there probably is someone). I often say that localization is a journey without end. But sometimes these journeys do end, at least temporarily.